The MD of Bighorn administration building in Exshaw.File Photo/Rocky Mountain Outlook

The future is now for the MD of Bighorn.

Council will look at budgeting $48,000 a year to pay for records management software after it tried, unsuccessfully, to hire for a new full-time position with the same responsibilities.

“This is like the self-serve checkout equivalent for municipal government,” said Reeve Lisa Rosvold at a governance and priorities committee meeting last week.

“I’m aware it’s been a hard position for us to fill and we’ve tried for a couple of years, so we’re moving on to another way to get this accomplished and I think it’s really important that we do.”

The MD budgeted for a records and information management coordinator in 2022 and 2023. However, it received no applications for the position while it was posted.

“The advertising for the position ran for several weeks and after no applications were received the organization decided to press pause on the search and re-evaluate the need for the role after the completion of an organizational review,” said CAO Shaina Tutt.

As an alternative to the position, the MD will consider spending about $70,000 in 2024, which will include annual software package costs, $17,000 for a one-time cost to load historical documents and $5,000 for other potential costs associated with the switch. It would be supported by Local Government Fiscal Framework funding, which was formerly the Municipal Sustainability Initiative.

The full-time position would have been responsible for administering the corporate records management program, including planning, organizing, monitoring and coordinating the maintenance, protection, retrieval and disposition of all information, and developing appropriate planning tools.

It would also determine standards, guidelines and practices regarding corporate records that will form part of municipal policy, monitor FOIP compliance and respond to FOIP requests.

Tutt said the software being considered to replace the position is a “government-centric performance management framework that drives transparency, collaboration, quality reporting and improved decision-making.”

“The software design has the ability to automate forms and processes and the information is captured to supporting reporting,” she said.

The MD manages its records through policy and with participation from all departments and will continue to do so, Tutt noted.

The process of converting paper files to electronic has been ongoing for the past year, with some records dating back to the MD’s inception in 1988.

“We are able to manage the space for storage through to disposition of records that have met their retention requirements,” said Tutt.

The project was initially brought forth as $100,000 in the 2024 budget to be introduced over two years.

“(…) Now we’re actually thinking we can do it in one year and expand the scope,” said MD director of corporate and planning services Brenda Hewko. “The expansion of the scope is not only doing records management but taking that automation that records management would bring in and adding a few more layers to it.”

She said this would involve looking at standard operating procedures and processes for properly documenting and storing records.

“Once that’s in place, we would be able to start bringing reports to council to say ‘this is where we’ve been spending our time and our efforts’ on different tasks,” said Hewko.

“So, all of this also helps support our priority-based budgeting and our levels of service reporting.”

Rosvold supported the discussion but had some concerns about document security.

“Would the records management company be documenting or storing confidential-type documents and how do we ensure that they are secure?” she asked.

Hewko noted the software is Cloud-based and local to Alberta, supporting other organizations across Canada, Australia, the UK and other countries.  

“We’re staying within the IT world making sure they’re in Canadian-based storage,” she said. “They’re going to be highly secure regardless of confidentiality. We do not want people necessarily breaking into our records.”

By Jessica Lee, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Feb 15, 2024 at 16:46

This item reprinted with permission from   Rocky Mountain Outlook   Canmore, Alberta

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